13 November, 2023
08 May, 2024
16 Wael Arakji (RIY)
24/07/2023
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Al Riyadi eager for another crack at FIBA WASL Final 8 title

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - The success far outweighs a single loss.

Al Riyadi head coach Ahmad Farran refused to let his team's fourth-place finish in the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 inaugurals define the entire 2022-23 campaign they had.

"This loss will not define our season," he said.

The Lebanese powerhouse came into the Final 8 as a favorite to win the whole thing, mainly because of their triumphs leading up to the 9-17 June showpiece held in Dubai.

Shortly after becoming the first-ever FIBA WASL-West Asia League champions, the crew successfully regained the Lebanese Basketball Championship title they lost to Beirut Club last year.

 

They started the Final 8 strongly, first by beating Manama via 112-84 blowout before defeating their inter-city rivals once more, 106-91, to sweep their way into the Semi-Finals.

But they could hardly celebrate those wins.

Al Riyadi lost Wael Arakji to a calf injury mere minutes into their match versus Beirut Club, indeed a big blow for a side that already didn't have Ali Mansour as he hurt his knee in their first game.

 

Losing their two main floor generals badly affected Farran's rotation, to the point that Amir Saoud was forced out of his comfort zone as he had to assume point guard duties.

Those Group Phase wins turned out to be their last in the tilt.

Al Riyadi bowed to Kuwait Club in the Semis, 95-85, and fell just short of salvaging a third-place finish as they lost to BC Astana by way of a narrow 94-90 decision.

"We knew that it's gonna be hard for us to play without our two point guards," said Farran.

As difficult as the ending was, the team remained gracious in defeat.

"We accept this kind of loss," said the champion bench tactician. "We deserve more, I know. We came here as the no. 1 favorite. But after losing our players one by one, it affected us a lot."

Now, Al Riyadi have their sights set for the next season, strongly motivated to run it back and compete as they go after another shot at FIBA WASL's ultimate prize.

Among the club's priorities this offseason is to secure the services of their core led by Arakji, Saoud, Mansour, and Hayk Gyokchyan, in their aim to remain competitive.

"I promise you, next season, we will be here, fighting and competing to win the FIBA WASL Final 8," said Farran, who has now won four domestic league titles with Al Riyadi.

For now, though, the rest of the squad are taking much needed time off resting and recovering from the rigors of what was a busy 2022-23 campaign for them.

"It was a very long season," Farran said.

FIBA